Tax and Regulate

TOMORROW (Wed. 5/29): Rhode Island’s House Finance Committee to hear cannabis equity bills

We have known for years that marijuana prohibition laws disproportionately harm communities of color. A 2013 ACLU report analyzing FBI arrest data found that black Rhode Islanders were nearly three times more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana possession from 2001 to 2010.

State Representatives Anastasia Williams and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell have introduced legislation (H 5795, H 6069, H 6070, and H 6073) to address the disparate impacts of marijuana prohibition, and tomorrow afternoon, the House Finance Committee will hold a hearing to discuss their proposals. Collectively, the bills would direct regulators to study the disproportionate harms of marijuana arrests, establish programs to assist business applicants who have been affected, create an economic opportunity fund for reinvestment in communities most harmed by prohibition, and require marijuana business licenses to be distributed more equitably.

You can find details about the hearing and links to each of the bills here. If you are able to attend, please consider testifying in support of cannabis equity in front of the committee. The committee will meet at roughly 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, May 29) in Room 35 of the State House (82 Smith Street, Providence).

Thank you.

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Tax and Regulate

This afternoon: Join us in supporting cannabis policy reform at the Rhode Island State House

Please join me and other members of the Regulate Rhode Island Coalition today at 3 p.m. in the State House (82 Smith Street, Providence) as we urge legislators to enact sensible and just cannabis laws. Prior to the floor session (which usually begins a little after 4 p.m.) is a great time to have one-on-one conversations with lawmakers, and we will be talking with them about the importance of legislating responsibly and legalizing marijuana the right way.

If you are unable to make it, you can still help move sensible policy reform forward: Send a message to your state representative and senator using our email action tool.

Parking is available across the street from the capitol building at the Department of Health and in the Providence Place Mall garage. After you enter the State House and proceed through the metal detector, you will find a Regulate Rhode Island volunteer coordinator immediately to your left next to the Civil War-era cannon display. The coordinator will provide you copies of our talking points document, which you can view here.

We need all of you to be part of this effort to end prohibition, protect cannabis patients, and promote social equity for victims of the war on marijuana. Cannabis laws won’t change themselves. Let’s continue to raise our voices and call for action.

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island: Join us on Thursday for a lobby day at the State House!

With just over a month remaining in this year’s legislative session, supporters of sensible and just cannabis policies must make their voices heard. Article 20 of Gov. Raimondo’s proposed budget is still in play, but the legislation needs important amendments around home cultivation, social equity, and other important issues.

We need your help to urge our lawmakers to end prohibition, protect patients, and legalize with equity. Please join us in calling for sensible cannabis policy reform:

When: Thursday, May 23 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: The Rhode Island State House (82 Smith Street, Providence)

Parking is available across the street from the capitol building at the Department of Health and in the Providence Place Mall garage. After you enter the State House and proceed through the metal detector, you will find a Regulate Rhode Island volunteer coordinator immediately to your left next to the Civil War-era cannon display. The coordinator will provide you copies of our talking points document, which you can view here.

Please RSVP and help us spread the word by sharing our Facebook event.

For far too long, legislative leaders have kicked the can down the road on marijuana policy reform. The best way to show our lawmakers the importance of this issue is to show up and speak with them directly.

See you there!

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Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island Opens First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Rhode Island, the second New England state to permit the sale of medical marijuana, opened its first dispensary on Friday.

Located on in Providence, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center Slater-1-RIwill initially sell marijuana cultivated by growers participating in the state’s medical marijuana program; however, it plans to begin growing its own medicine to sell as soon as possible.

The state will likely add more dispensaries in the coming months in Warwick and Portsmouth.

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Rep. Ajello T&R presser 02062013

At a press conference Wednesday, Rhode Island State Rep. Edith Ajello (pictured at right) and State Sen. Donna Nesselbush announced the introduction of a bill to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. So far the bill has 19 sponsors, including Republican House Minority Leader Brian Newberry.

RIFuture.org reports:

Under the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, criminal penalties for the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home growing of up to three mature marijuana plants would be removed; a tightly regulated system of marijuana retail stores, cultivation and research facilities would be established; and the Department of Business Regulation would establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.

A story about the event in the Pawtucket Times conveyed Sen. Nesselbush's strong case for the bill:

"Marijuana, like alcohol, has long been with us and is widely used,” Nesselbush told reporters at an afternoon news conference. “The question is: how are we going to deal with it?

"Will the state determine the time, place and manner or will we leave it up to criminals to sell it anywhere at any time to anyone? Will the state act boldly to create a legitimate industry that creates jobs and generates legitimate tax revenue or will we continue to unwittingly support gangs and cartels? Are we going to spend the hard-earned tax dollars from hard-working taxpayers to punish and incarcerate individuals for consuming a substance that appears to be less harmful than alcohol?”

The Rhode Island bill was rolled out just one day after members of Congress introduced historic legislation to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. If you have yet to do so, please contact your represenative totday and encourage them to support an end to federal marijuana prohibition.

(Photo courtesy of Rebecca McGoldrick, Coalition for Marijuana Regulation)

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